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05/27/2014 | Deutsche Lufthansa: New repair procedures bring ecological and economic benefits

In the airline industry, reducing the weight of an aircraft is an important way to cut fuel consumption. Each kilogram of weight saved lowers CO2 emissions and saves money. At Lufthansa German Airlines, for example, savings amount to 26,000 euros per year. This was the starting point for Lufthansa Technik’s research project “AIRtech – Advanced and Innovative Repair Technologies”. The two-year project, which successfully completed its research phase in December 2013, focused on developing new repair procedures and ways of improving shop-replaceable components by using lighter materials, new production processes and innovative construction methods. 

Besides achieving targeted weight savings and a resulting drop in fuel consumption, customers of the Lufthansa Group’s MRO specialist will in future benefit from extended component life and also lower their maintenance and repair costs. 

Many of the aircraft components currently in use were designed more than 30 years ago, and repairs frequently involve the use of materials and production processes that are based on the original design. As part of the research project, eight different components were systematically examined. One of them is the Vacuum Generator, a pump used to create a static pressure difference between the cabin and the waste water container. 

“Whereas today this component is made of aluminium, it could in future be made from a plastic-aluminium composite and be produced using a 3D printing technique, making it lighter, more cost-effective and much more durable. We have already demonstrated in a test bed run that our prototypes work,” says Philipp Reipschläger, project manager at Lufthansa Technik. 

Various business cases are currently being analysed and evaluated in preparation for converting the status of the improved parts from prototype to certified and installable components. After that, the development phase will begin.

Lufthansa Technik is the world’s leading independent provider of MRO services and is also involved in numerous research and innovation projects. With its research project AIRtech, the Lufthansa Group has shown that small innovations can lead to major improvements.

Econsense

Forum for Sustainable Development of German Business e.V.

econsense is an association of leading, globally active companies and organisations of German business specializing in the area of sustainable development and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Founded in 2000 on the initiative of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), the goal of econsense is to provide a dialogue platform and think tank, with the dual objectives of advancing sustainable development in business and assuming social responsibility.